Though they began their penultimate show with a shaky start, Chairlift’s dance moves and packed 20-song set left fans begging the band not to break up.
4/20/2017 – Brighton Music Hall
Judging by their contagious enthusiasm, you’d never guess Chairlift’s performance at Brighton Music Hall was the band’s penultimate show on their breakup tour.
The indie-pop punk duo comprised of vocalist Caroline Polachek and drummer, bassist and mixer, Patrick Wimbley, announced they were disbanding in December 2016. Their final seven-show tour ended in Brooklyn on April 22.
Their Allston show fell on 4/20, and concertgoers celebrated by filling Brighton Music Hall with a distinct smell. Red, yellow, and green lights illuminated the stage briefly to acknowledge the unofficial holiday.
Chairlift’s set started off a little shaky—the teeth-rattling bass in their opening song, “Garbage,” was so heavy the song was almost unrecognizable. Polachek’s ghostly voice was lost in the vibrations, and audience members were visibly, as it appeared that the whole show might be blown out. But their second song, “Evident Utensil,” had a more balanced mix, and reassured the audience.
Things started to pick up when they played “I Belong in Your Arms.” The disco ball started spinning, and Polachek showed off her pipes. She made the venue’s small stage seem huge with graceful, sweeping arm movements, and her waist-long ponytail whipped around like a snake while she danced. After they finished, she said, breathless, “I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun playing that song.”
Performance and aesthetics are clearly a priority to the band. Polachek, who is just as cool as she is talented, looked like a punk version of Clueless in a plaid and leather skirt suit. She laughed at one point and said, “This is the ‘Do Whatever You Want’ tour.” But despite the admitted nonchalance, the group had incredibly dynamic stage presence. When Polachek isn’t making music for Chairlift, she’s working on her side project, Ramona Lisa, which blends dance, music and visual art. Naturally, her dance moves were extremely impressive.
The opener, Kristin Kontrol, couldn’t make the show so the band played an unusually long set, ringing in at 20 songs. Halfway through their set, they played “Cool As Fire,” a new age-y, trance-inducing serenade that created a mellow ambiance. This song contrasted the rest of their upbeat set, which featured danceable music from their most recent albums Moth and Something. After finishing the song, an audience member yelled, “Don’t break up!”
Polachek admitted an interesting character trait while prefacing “Ghost Tonight.” She asked, “Don’t you ever just stalk people?” then dove into an unbelievable display of her vocal range.
Danny Meyer, Chairlift’s touring saxophonist, brought things back about over 30 years during “Crying in Public” with an ‘80s-inspired solo.
Next, they played “Bruises”—the song that first put Chairlift on the map after it appeared in an Apple commercial in 2008. Polachek joked after, saying, “Someone asked me if I’m excited for the break up because it means I never have to play that song again, but I’ve never really gotten tired of it.”
Polachek, Wimbley, and Meyer returned to the stage for a three-song encore featuring “Polymorphic,” “Planet Health,” and “Met Before.” Their parting words to the audience were appreciative thanks, and Polachek and Wimbley embraced in a very long hug as a premature goodbye.
Chairlift’s music isn’t groundbreaking in the synth pop genre, but with their lively performance and their cool kid aesthetic, the duo stands out against a sea of similar bands. For their second-to-last show before breaking up, their performance was void of negativity and instead left a positive impression. Polachek will continue her Ramona Lisa project and possibly collaborate with other musicians, like she has in the past with Beyoncé in her song “No Angel.” Wimbley, who has toured with Solange and has also collaborated with Beyoncé, will continue making music and join forces with other artists.